Thursday, May 8, 2008

More pruning, part one

-So hey, I got a new pair of glasses today. These are the kind that turn into sunglasses when one goes outside, which kind of violates an old, possibly sexist Dick Hyacinth prescript: men shouldn't wear sunglasses. I figured women are well-advised to wear them in order to avoid eye contact with skeevy looking dudes, whereas men who wear them are over-preened jackasses. But that's obviously not true, since I'M WEARING THEM NOW. They look best in a brightly-lit room, where the tinting only shows up a little. It kind of makes me look like the chair of a department of Hitler studies or something. Otherwise, these are the same kind of hipster-ish, black-rimmed Elvis Costello/Buddy Holly glasses I've been wearing since 1997. Yep.

-I'm kind of surprised to find out that there are a lot of people who liked the art in DC Universe #0. I mean, I expected that some people would like the story, such as it is, but the art? You never hear anyone talking about art, so this has a certain flavor of beleaguered optimism: "Sure, it was a waste of 50 cents, but it at least had good art." No, it didn't. As I said in my previous post, I like a lot of the credited artists, but most of what I saw in DCU #0 didn't even resemble their art. On the other hand, it came out on time! I guess that's good for fans of punctuality.

And really, are people actually complaining about blowing 50 cents on this thing? Seriously? I'm not exactly doing backstrokes in my money bin, but I think my budget can take a 50 cent strain. Why are comics fans so cheap? Is this some kind of lingering association from the days when fans got a limited allowance, and half a buck actually did make a difference?

As for the issue itself, I've thought a bit more about it, and came to two conclusions:

1. I would bet there's some kind of Darkseid-60s Flash mixture going on or something. Like, they're going to reveal that the Speed Force has something to do with the Source Wall. Or that it's the Anti-Life Equation. Just like Swamp Thing and Firestorm and everything else in the DC universe.

2. I'm guessing that the whole upcoming Spectre miniseries is a plot device to explain why he can't come in and solve the problem at the heart of Final Crisis, whatever it is, deus ex machina style (literally, sort of). And then, once the Spectre's miniseries is over, he'll either assume that role in Final Crisis or (more likely) be a fake-out deus ex machina.

As I said before, DCU #0 makes me less excited about Final Crisis. We'll see how it goes, I guess. But there's no way I'm touching those tie-ins, except maybe the Batman thing.

-The long, tedious packing process has begun, with many thrift store donations already made and many yet to come. We're also going to be selling off some of our books, among them a big chunk of my comics which have no real use for me anymore. I'm not enough of an OCD collector type to hold onto everything I've ever bought, but I guess I'm enough of one to want to memorialize this pruning in blog form. So here's a list of about half the TPBs/GNs I'm planning on selling, with a brief explanation of how I got them and why I'm getting rid of them:

Next Men: Two volumes (the first two, I assume?). I got these in high school, brought them up here with all my other comics about three years ago. I have no idea how well these comics have aged, but I just don't see myself having the desire to read this stuff again.

2112: I remember being totally psyched to find this in a back-issue bin. For those who don't know, it's somehow related to Next Men. I think the villain in that book is from the future and 2112 shows how he traveled back in time or something like that. Don't even remember liking this much at the age of 17.

Rex Mundi: Bought this within the first few months of returning to comics-reading, probably around the end of 2004. I never finished it, mostly because I thought the art was just too, too bad. Also didn't much care for the dialogue. Sounded like a cool concept, though.

Batman: Holy Terror and Superman: Speeding Bullets: Two early Elsewhere volumes, bought in high school or maybe junior high. The first (which was hawked as "New anti-religion Batman story! HOT!" in those old American Entertainment ads) shows how Batman would have existed in a world where Oliver Cromwell wouldn't have died when he died. I think. The other operates on the premise that Thomas and Martha Wayne, rather than conceiving their own child, found the infant Kal-El and raised him as Bruce Wayne. I liked Gotham By Gaslight (which I don't plan on selling), but these were kind of goofy. I never like the idea that alternate history superhero comics HAVE to feature the same basic characters as in the regular comics. To wit, Holy Terror shows the rest of the Justice League imprisoned by the Anglican Church (or whoever the villain was in this story). Likewise, it seems unlikely that the Wayne family, had they adopted the infant Superman, would have been killed in basically the same way, leading their orphaned child to develop the same bat-themed crimefighting persona. I don't remember buying any other Elseworlds volumes after reading these two.

World's Finest: This is a three issue prestige series which Steve Rude drew. I remember liking it fine, but I'm missing one of the three issues. I don't think I liked it enough to track it down; in fact, if I wanted to read the whole story, I'd probably just try to find a collected edition. Assuming one exists.

Rising Stars: This is only the first volume. When I started reading comics again, I expressed to my local shop owner my enthusiasm for the JMS/JRJr issues of Spider-Man. Don't know if I'd still like those--they came from the library--but in retrospect the Romita art was probably what I really liked. Man, the art in this series was just awful, the Image style at its nadir. Worse yet, it's written like a first generation Image comic. Of all the books on this list, Rising Stars is the one I'm most eager to get out of the house.

Dreadstar: Three volumes I bought a couple of years ago for about three bucks each. I think they're all in B&W. What can I say, I was dazzled by the low price. Even at the time, I struggled to visualize myself actually reading these books.

Wanted: Never read it. Bought it at one of those shops that sell used everything: video games, books, comics, DVDs, CDs, etc. I think it was out of print or hard to find or something at the time, so I decided to pick it up despite its dire reputation. I'll try to at least flip through it before selling it, just to ensure that it's actually not something I want to keep.

Amazing Joy Buzzards: Sorry, Mark. I just never felt this series, despite a good concept and nice character designs. Could be that I read this too late in life, at a point when I could only see rock bands as an object of scorn. Again, I'll try to look at it again before selling.

The Authority: First volume. Remember that dude who used to write about superheroes in the Comics Journal, c. 1999? What ever happened to that guy? This was one of his favorite series, so I figured I should check it out when I started reading comics again. Thought it was okay when I first read it, but I've grown to dislike it more as I've read more by Warren Ellis. I think Millar and Hitch did this better in The Ultimates, minus all the Ellisisms. (And yes, I realize that Alan Moore probably did it best in Miracleman, but I still haven't read it.) Still, it's better than the Millar Authority run, which is one of the few comics which have genuinely offended me. Thankfully, I read the public library's copies of those TPBs.

Stormwatch: All five Warren Ellis volumes! Seriously? I really own all this? I bought the first couple of volumes to round out an order from Amazon (which, IIRC, mostly consisted of those hardcover volumes of Ultimate Spider-Man; I'm not selling those, FWIW). Bought the rest at a used bookstore. So at least I didn't pay full retail. I think I only read the first volume and a half, and was pretty underwhelmed. Figured that, given its reputation, the series must have improved at some point, so I bought the others when I saw them for half off cover price. Then I kind of lost interest in these sorts of comics. Bad art doesn't help.

New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy?: Look, I still think New Teen Titans is one of the more overrated comics of all time. I can't believe people complain about Millar and Bendis' dialogue and give Wolfman's HORRIBLE dialogue a pass. But if you can get past all the teenage boys saying "m'love" and all the gooey "I love you all so much!" moments, NTT is pretty good entertainment (mostly due to Perez' art). Unfortunately, this volume consists almost exclusively of "m'love" and "I love you all so much!" moments. I'm keeping my copies of Terror of Trigon and Judas Contract, but Who Is Donna Troy? is as inessential as it gets.

Various Fourth World softcovers: Remember those B&W reprints of Jack Kirby's DC work? I have three of them (Mr. Miracle, New Gods, Forever People). But I also have the first three volumes of the hardcover Fourth World Omnibus series, and I plan on getting the fourth. These are pretty much superfluous to my collection, but they're by far the best things on this list. I think I promised to send them to my brother.

Flash by Mark Waid: Three volumes. I like some (but by no means all) of Mark Waid's work, but this stuff was really not good. Ultra-bland mid-90s-DC-style artwork, though some of these folks (most notably Mike Wieringo) turned into good artists eventually. Quick question: why is a gun-toting Betty Brant any dumber than a gun-toting Linda Park? Frankly, I prefer Geoff Johns' version. YES! SHOCK AND HORROR! I still haven't decided if I'm keeping any of my volumes of the Johns-era Flash, though.

Those books, among many other GNs, are mixed in with my regular comics. When I dig them out, I'll do another list like this of other GNs I'm planning to sell.


Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

Oh man you know how hard it is to get straight-up hipster-ish black-rimmed Elvis Costello/Buddy Holly sunglasses that are *just* sunglasses, not prescription glasses too?

It's hard, dog. Hard. I bought one pair for $150 once. Then I lost them in a bog in the Lakes district.

I will miss that pair of sunglasses till the day I die.

Jog said...

"Remember that dude who used to write about superheroes in the Comics Journal, c. 1999?"

Ray Mescallado, right? I recall he really liked Warren Ellis... in the famous Top 100 issue he did a Top 20 Mainstream Comics of the Century list that listed Stormwatch at #12 and Transmetropolitan at #6, even though the latter was only up to issue #15 or so at the time...

Tucker Stone said...

This is a pretty fantastic read--i realize it's an off the cuff rip on some pretty dire books, but I got a real kick out of it. I'm a big fan of the culling process myself--getting bad comics out of the house and replacing them with empty space never fails to up the joy factor.

I hate the dialog in Titans about as much as it's possible to hate anything that isn't actively attacking me physically.

The Fortress Keeper said...

I'm with you on New Teen Titans ... especially the Who Is Donna Troy story.

If "mature comics" means taking a once fun character and making her a soap opera heroine who spits out mid-70s Marv Wolfman dialogue, then I'll stick with my Carl Barks comics.

Katherine said...

I felt like the main point of Speeding Bullets was to answer the question "wouldn't Batman be even scarier if he had Superman's powers?" Yes. Yes, he would.

A conversation I once had at a friend's house:

ME: Oh, Rising Stars. That's... interesting.
FRIEND: That's not what you said last time.
ME: What did I say last time?
FRIEND: You said it was melodramatic and overblown.
ME: Oh. [pause] Well, it is melodramatic and overblown. But it's still interesting.

The thing that pissed me off most about Rising Stars was the egregious sexism. The male supers get powers like "flight" and "energy blasting" and "being able to look into people's dreams"; the females get... "sublime beauty". Or "supernaturally gorgeous singing". Gee, thanks, JMS.

(Also, the artist really liked drawing hair. I mean, really liked it. To the point where it got distracting.)

Greg said...

If you don't think men should wear sunglasses, you obviously don't live in Arizona, which is about two miles from the sun. I would have clawed my eyes out years ago if I didn't wear sunglasses.

LurkerWithout said...

"The thing that pissed me off most about Rising Stars was the egregious sexism. The male supers get powers like "flight" and "energy blasting" and "being able to look into people's dreams"; the females get... "sublime beauty". Or "supernaturally gorgeous singing". Gee, thanks, JMS."

The female main villain in the first arc was telekinetic I think. And everyone but the cross-dressing "shines light and flies" religious kid got the basic brick package as more of them died from what I remember...

Nick said...

FYI: The Johns' Flash trades, certain ones anyway, you can sell for a pretty penny as a couple haven't been republished in a long time.

I myself have been hunting for two or three volumes.